SolarPrint invests €1.2m to ramp up production

30 Jun 2011

Dublin-based solar energy technology company SolarPrint has completed a €1.2m funding round that will enable it to manufacture its first commercial printable solar panels.

The company, which was established in 2008, has raised €4m to date, to develop dye sensitised solar cells (DSSC), a third-generation printable solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. DSSC mimics photosynthesis and can harness ambient or diffuse light regardless of the angle.

“We have made breakthroughs in design and manufacturing processes that will allow us to be one of the first companies globally to launch commercial DSSC products,” states Dr Mazhar Bari, CEO and co-founder of the company.

Following the successful commissioning of its pilot production facility in late 2010, the company’s indoor energy-harvesting devices have been tested by more than 15 multinationals active in the wireless sensor sector.

“Indoors, SolarPrint’s technology outperforms every other form of energy-harvesting device enabling the powering and rollout of wireless sensor networks for building energy management systems,” says Bari. Furthermore, according to Bari, the nascent energy-harvesting market already stands at more than €200m and is growing at 50pc per annum.

SolarPrint executes scale-up plan

The company has grown to more than 20 employees in the last 18 months, with continued execution of its scale-up plan. Having succeeded in the R&D and product development stage, the company has decided for the next phase of development to keep process and IP development in house.

“Ireland has a wealth of process engineering and wireless sensor talent and there is no reason for us to look abroad for expertise in this sector when we have the best engineers in the world here at home.”

Bari also believes there is a unique opportunity for Ireland to be a global leader in third-generation solar technology.

Bari attributes SolarPrint’s speed to market to its rapid iteration of product design and prototype manufacturing facilitated by its pilot line, working with customers who provide product feedback, and its close ties with several leading academic centres on nanotechnology, keeping it at the forefront of innovations in this space.

The company believes, with the right resources and continued support, this industry has the potential to generate thousands of jobs.

“Enterprise Ireland recognised the opportunity early on and, together with Custom House Capital and private investors, they have been extremely supportive in getting our technology to market.

“We know that the business opportunities exist and that we have a game-changing technology. We are generating great excitement among our potential customers and by taking a longer-term view, we will achieve the success we know we can and build a fast-growing global business.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years